Electric vehicles are all the rage these days, and manufacturers continue to push the bounds of design and engineering to achieve machines that are both more efficient and quick to charge. While fast-charging tech has indeed advanced leaps and bounds in recent years, hydrogen serves as yet another potential goldmine for folks looking for a quick recharge while still piloting a zero-emissions vehicle. 

While we’ve talked about internal-combustion hydrogen engines before – like those being developed by Yamaha and Toyota, what we’re looking at today is a hydrogen-powered electric motorcycle (think Toyota Mirai and other hydrogen-powered EVs). Developed by a consortium of German-Czech collaborators, the aptly named Hydrocycle concept hopes to reshape the future of the two-wheeled mobility world. 

Hydrocycle Concept - Prototype testing at the Czech Technological University

Hydrocycle Concept - Prototype testing at the Czech Technical University

Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, or simply Fraunhofer IWU, is one of the key proponents of this project. In its official press release, it explains that one kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of compressed hydrogen is usually enough to power a car for 62 miles. Because of its compact nature, it holds quite a lot of potential for smaller vehicles, such as scooters and motorcycles, too. That said, the task is by no means simple, as a motorcycle rocking a hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric powertrain will need a system onboard that converts hydrogen into electrical energy. Naturally, these can be quite heavy. 

Nevertheless, the consortium is adamant on developing a working prototype that meets European standards by no later than 2025. The organization says that the prototype will be drivable, and will be developed to cater mainly to the urban mobility landscape. This means that industrial segments such as last-mile delivery are at the core of the project, with the ultimate goal being CO2-neutral mobility and reduced noise emissions. 

Hydrocycle Concept - Fuel Cell Stack

Hydrocycle Concept - Fuel Cell Stack

Fraunhofer IWU explains how the consortium will work together to bring the idea into fruition. On the one hand, Czech organizations such as design house 1to1design, the Czech Technical University, and research and development firm ÚJV Řež will all work together to develop the platform for the new motorcycle. On the other hand, German companies like Fraunhofer IWU and WätaSwärmetauscher Sachsen GmbH will focus on the powertrain, more specifically the fuel cell stack and electric motor that will propel the motorcycle. 

Overall, the Hydrocycle project could translate into big things not just for the European motorcycle industry, but the rest of the world, as well. The European Union has rolled out a hydrogen strategy in the hopes of having the big H play a bigger role in mainstream mobility as early as 2030. All in all, it’s in line with the EU’s ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. 

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